Due to injuries along the Detroit Lions defensive line, second-year defensive end Anthony Zettel is practicing with the first team defense. Is he the next Kerry Hyder Jr.?
Last season, one of the biggest areas of concerns for the Detroit Lions was their overall lack of pass rush. Struggling with an ankle injury, Pro Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah recorded just 2.0 sacks in 13 games in 2016.
Surprisingly, the Lions’ sack leader last season was 2014 undrafted rookie free agent Kerry Hyder Jr. The former Texas Tech standout posted 8.0 sacks in Detroit, five of which he recorded in the first four weeks of the season.
This offseason, the Lions did little to address their pass rush. Instead general manager Bob Quinn and company will rely on in-house talent to get that job done. A healthy Ansah combined with an emerging Hyder should go a long way to making sure that happens.
But with the first week of Lions’ training camp in the books, there is another young pass rusher emerging as a possible breakout candidate. And that’s second-year defensive end Anthony Zettel.
"“I think (the Lions) are counting on me more this year,” Zettel told the team’s official website. “They have a lot more trust in me. I came in shape this offseason, and I’m ready to go at it this year and I’m excited to take a bigger role.”"
With players like Ansah, Armonty Bryant and Cornelius Washington sidelined in camp, it has opened the door for Zettel to get more playing time with Detroit’s first team defense. And the coaches have liked what they’ve seen so far.
During the offseason, Zettel worked out with two Pro Bowl linebackers in the Dallas Cowboys’ Sean Lee and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Paul Posluszny. Both of whom are Penn State alums. Zettel was a sixth round selection out of Penn State himself back in 2016.
Coming out of college, the 6-foot-4, 270 pound Zettel was known for being a bit of a tweener, who could play both inside and outside along the defensive line. A two-year starter for the Nittany Lions, the high effort, high motor defender recorded a combined 88 tackles, 28.0 tackles for a loss, 12.0 sacks, three interceptions and one defensive touchdown during his final two seasons at Penn State.
During his rookie season with the Lions, Zettel recorded 13 total tackles and one sack in 13 games. The 24-year old played 215 defensive snaps and 57 snaps on special teams.
It’s unknown whether Anthony Zettel can have the same breakout season in his second year that Kerry Hyder Jr. did for the Detroit Lions last season But the fact he is stepping up in training camp is a certainly good sign.